Anyone from Northeast Pennsylvania who has driven across the George Washington Bridge has seen the signs, beginning west of Paterson, N.J.: "Bridge congestion, expect delays." And the warnings usually are on the mark. The bridge is the world's busiest; its east-bound lanes carried 49,110,921 vehicles from New Jersey to New York in 2012, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a comparable number west-bound.
That volume alone quantifies the colossal arrogance of several aides of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who closed two bridge lanes for four days as a political prank. Their objective was to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, N.J. Mr. Sokolich, a Democrat whose city envelopes the New Jersey end of the bridge, did not support Mr. Christie last year in his re-election bid.
In September, Mr. Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, sent an email to one of Mr. Christie's appointees to the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," she wrote.
"Got it," he replied. Mr. Wildstein later admitted, after state legislators issued a subpoena for his emails, that he subsequently ordered the lane closings. At a legislative hearing this week, Mr. Wildstein invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the committee voted to hold him in contempt.
Contempt is too kind a term for this grotesque abuse of government power. The traffic jam resulting from the lane closings delayed at least four emergency responses, kept thousands of schoolchildren on their buses rather than in class, and delayed tens of thousands of commuters.
Mr. Christie, who adamantly had denied any involvement of his administration in the closing, apologized profusely Thursday and fired Ms. Kelly, as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey launched an investigation. Yet, he clung to the fiction that the disaster was part of a supposed traffic study, that clearly does not exist. And who would conduct a traffic study that would cut off access to see what would happen, Dr. Mengele?
Mr. Christie, a prospective presidential candidate, should see to the public release of all documentation and ensure that anyone involved is banished from the government.